Climbing magazine field-tested the Metolius Anchor Chain for toprope durability and ease of use during leading sport climbs. Here's what we found.
Climbing Protection Reviews
The Friend camming device, introduced way back in 1977, has been completely revamped for the third time in its illustrious history to create Wild Country Helium Friends ($65 to $75, wildcountry.co.uk).
In the three decades since spring-loaded camming devices were invented, they’ve radically transformed the notion of what climbs can be led safely. Here’s a little lore about modern climbing’s most revolutionary piece of protection. The essential brilliance of spring-loaded camming devices (SLCDs) is their lobes’ shape, which is described mathematically as a logarithmic spiral. The same curving lines are found naturally in seashells, pine cones, flower heads, and even in the basic form of our own galaxy, the Milky Way.
If you’re getting into traditional climbing, or upgrading your rack, a set of spring-loaded camming devices will be your biggest expense: At $50 to $90 each, you’re looking at $500, minimum, for a modest selection of units. The good news is that modern cams offer excellent value: They work beautifully and will last much longer than your shoes, ropes, or harnesses.
Black Diamond Hoodwire Quickdraw - This is the first ready-to-buy draw using BD’s clever HoodWire technology. A standard wire-gate biner has a hook in the nose that can snag on bolt hangers or gear loops on your harness, but the HoodWire shields this hook with little stainless-steel strips for hassle-free clipping and unclipping. The hood will not trap debris that could cause open-gate failures, and it protects the nose from wear.
How brilliant was Ray Jardine’s design for the first commercially successful spring-loaded camming device? It was so spot-on that the 13.75° constant camming angle that Jardine stipulated is still in use by several cam makers more than three decades later. But that’s not to say cam design has stagnated: The invention of TCUs and other micro-cams, double-axle units, and offset cams has helped climbers push into ever sketchier free-climbing and big-wall terrain. Here, we take a close look at the four newest camming devices available in the U.S., including a sneak preview of a radically redesigned Friend.
Just when it seemed like thin-crack pro couldn’t get any sleeker or more specialized, the innovators at Metolius Climbing introduced Offset Master Cams, an update to the single-stem units that tweaks them perfectly for flares, pin scars, and other singular placements. The Offsets come in six sizes — No. 00 through No. 5...
Single-stem cams are all the rage, with a versatile, plug-deep configuration great for the smallest sizes (hyper-thin cracks) and in any case where “walking” is not an option. Although Trango FlexCams (trango.com) have been on the market since 2004, this year sizes 1 to 4 have been reconfigured as a traditionaloffset four-cam design. Click here to buy now from MountainGear.com
A year and a half ago, I noted in our leashless tool review that the designs then available were only a precursor of shapes to come.
Buying cams is the most difficult choice you'll make with climbing gear. Over 20 different models in endless varieties: two-, three-, and four-cam units; single-stem and U-stem cables.